A plan has been devised to place a huge Israeli flag on a 100-meter pole (about 328 foot) at a promenade in southern Jerusalem, making it visible throughout the entire city. The flag, if hoisted, may cause controversy in the capital – particularly in nearby Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
The plan by the Jerusalem municipality and Tourism Ministry hasn't been widely publicized, but it is expected to face opposition from both nearby Arab neighborhoods of Jabal Mukkaber and Silwan, as well as from other residents who may view it as an eyesore.
In a conversation with Haaretz, the municipality and Tourism Ministry said the plan for the flag is still in review, and that a decision has not yet been made.
If approved, the flag is set to be an important part of a comprehensive plan by the city and its development authority to renovate and upgrade the Hanatziv promenade. The plan includes a hotel complex and restaurant area, and aims to encourage residents to and tourists to visit the area and to do away with its reputation as an unsafe place, especially at night.
The plan calls for the flag, which will measure 33 meters by 24 meters, to serve as one of the centerpieces of the expanded promenade. The developers are promoting the envisioned flag as both a landmark and tourist attraction. The estimated cost of the flag project alone is 10.5 million shekels ($3.1 million).
The flag would be the largest permanent national flag in Israel. Two years ago, a giant Israeli flag, 100 meters high, was flown at Ashdod Port, though only temporarily. Bigger flags have been spread on the ground in the Golan Heights and Eilat, though not flown from a pole.
The ridge on which the Armon Hanatziv Promenade was built has long attracted controversial development proposals. The 1970s saw one to build an interfaith university at the site in the shape of a dove of peace.
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In 2000, private developers sought to erect a giant observation tower with views stretching tens of kilometers, but following public pressure, the National Planning and Building Council rejected the plan five years later. Two other initiatives were also pulled due to public opposition.
As part of the current renovation plans for the promenade, the right-wing Israeli NGO Elad is planning to erect a new visitors center that will feature Israel's longest zip line, running from the promenade to the Peace Forest. Though not yet approved, a plan has also been devised for scores of laser canons that will project light shows into the sky above the promenade.